The New Yorker:
Since the coronavirus first took hold in this country, Donald Trump has heedlessly promoted the idea that it can be treated solely as a political, or even a cultural, problem. Part of the tragedy of the pandemic is that, until now, many people in less affected areas of the United States believed him. In a speech last week to thousands of mostly maskless young supporters in a megachurch in Phoenix, Trump claimed that Democrats are “trying to do their best to keep the country shut down”—not to fight COVID-19 but to sabotage the economy, and thus his electoral prospects. They’re also trying to “rig” the election by means of “the China virus.” He called the disease other names, including the more blatantly racist Kung Flu (it’s not a flu), and professed to find its real name “odd”: “I said, ‘What’s the nineteen?’ ” (The virus was identified in 2019, but the notion that there were eighteen previous Covids figures in certain conspiracy theories.) Most fantastically, Trump spoke of the pandemic as if it were a thing of the past, even as the number of new cases rose, last week, to horrific levels, particularly in Texas, Florida, California, and Arizona. Last Friday alone, the U.S. saw more than forty thousand new cases.
At a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, of the National Institutes of Health, said that trends this summer will produce a “baseline” for determining how severe a second wave may be in the fall and winter, and whether the country can rely on containment measures or will have to resort to another round of widespread closures of businesses and schools. The shifting of the epicenter of the pandemic from Northeastern, Midwestern, and urban areas that are largely governed by Democrats to states in the South and the West, many of them red or purple, along with blue California, is a reminder of a point that Dr. Ashish Jha, a Harvard public-health expert, has been making since March: the coronavirus doesn’t care whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat. Nationally, the number of deaths has fallen, thanks in part to new insights about treatments. But the rising numbers of cases, coupled with the listlessness of the Administration, suggest that the respite may be brief, and that we are squandering whatever advantage was gained by the ebb in the states first affected.
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